Saturday, October 31, 2009


Here's a Driftwood statistic worth noting: this site's authors have made five children since we began four years ago on Nov. 1, 2005, at 8:45 p.m.

A lot has happened, but perennial themes tell a story: controlled spoilage, the curdling of tastes, aesthetic relativity, the world-weary shrug one eventually adopts in the face of overwhelming evidence that things probably aren't going to get much better than they are right now. You'd think we would have quit by now.

But always, eventually, somewhere in the hidden folds of the crow's feet of a leathery gaze into the sunburst desertscape of our spiritual condition, we find reasons for joy and hope. In records, albums, songs, melodies, beats, lyrics, riffs, barbaric yawps, fay whispers, harmonic convergences, thunderous licks, melted time signatures, all manner of stoned philosophy, rough mixes, ripples of phaser and dollops of wah-wah, sonic wizardry of pretty much every stripe and stipple. If there's a sparkle in the groove, we'll fish it out. We're as moved by an epic failed attempt as by the soulful note perfectly struck.

As people, we grow ever more barnacled and bloated, what with jobs and kids and mortgages (gulp), untethered from a long-lost center that didn't hold and was never destined to hold. We need stronger liquor now, it's true. A revelation: people our age, Gen-X, have realized we're finally just a subset of the Baby Boomers, our cultural circuit-board built to believe we were extending the 20th Century narrative on some inevitable arc to somewhere (over the rainbow?), never suspecting we'd just end up digitizing the whole human drama and folding it all into an archival box for a flattened, airless age. End of History and all that. We're still a bit stunned that it turned out this way, aren't we? I think that's what The Driftwood Singers has always been about: for us, old LPs and quasi-salvageable bygone pop isn't just the flotsam and jetsam of a faded generation, it's a flotation device to keep us from going under the waves. We collect them like scrap metal for some kind of floating junkyard paradise where we can hang out and talk shit, drink bourbon and eat beans around a fire when the rest has turned to Waterworld. Inside a grain of sand, a universe: here's ours. A little reefer in a hand-rolled cigarette, settle in for the gauzy journey to the stereo, the blue-green glow, the first shocking notes, the quivering vocal, the tremolo guitar trembling between the speakers like a shimmering sun, the enveloping rapture of a musical moment.

It'll do in a pinch. Here's to four more years ...

Divine Daze of Deathless Delight - Donovan

Yellow Sun - Donovan

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Modern Love

1.) It's hard to believe, but the rate of retro exploitation has sped up so fast that it's now acceptable to cop Pavement records, as if new listeners were too young to actually pick up on it. This either signifies that I am officially ancient or history is folding in on itself so fast that 2012 will indeed herald the end of the world. Never had I imagined a day when my own generation's music would become source material for boutique replicators. Then I heard this band Cymbals Eat Guitars, which sounds so much like Pavement I'm almost convinced Stephen Malkmus invented these guys in his basement in some kind of a cloning experiment gone haywire. I sound like I'm complaining, but it's actually pretty amazing!

Tunguska - Cymbals Eat Guitars

2.) Lefty is presently loving two albums: the new Flaming Lips, Embryonic, which is so heavy with deep-dish psychedelia it's basically an ode to the impending legalization of pot in California; and the new Clientele album, Bonfires on the Heath. These records are great for entirely different reasons, the first for undermining all expectations, the Clientele for continuing to sound exactly like they always have, like the Byrds, the Zombies and the Left Banke were poured in a vat of green cough syrup, which you drank before falling asleep in a park in suburban England. It's perfect.

Silver Trembling Hands - Flaming Lips

Wonder Who We Are - The Clientele

3.) Mr. Poncho pointed me to the music of Ernie Graham, which seems to merge Bobby "Santa Claus" Dylan with Bobby "I live in a trailer on the Bayou" Charles. More acurately, it sounds like Ernie rolled up the year 1971 in a Zig Zag and smoked it.

So Lonely - Ernie Graham

4.) I'm not sure if I'll be the first to observe this, but Julian Casablanca may be the first of Gen-Y's retro-refurbishers to mine Eddie Money. Watch his much ballyhooed appearance on the Tonight Show and then compare:

(Can't really touch Eddie though, right? Casablanca needs a touch more Rodney Dangerfield to pull it off; JC's drummer is working some outer borough retard magic though.)

5.) Somebody dropped this track on me a few months ago and it keeps coming up in my shuffle. It's getting under my skin, slowly.

Modern Love - The Last Town Chorus

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ain't No Velvet Glove

As I mentioned, my brother dropped by the other week. He had his external hard drive. There was a lot of data dumpage going on. I retrieved some tidbits from the memory banks. I'm still excavating and unpacking. This was one of those tracks that I remembered from a mixed tape. It got played over and over. Etched in. Intaglio of the air. Wax print on the brain folds. Sonic seepage. There was so much transpiring in so little real time. Southern-fried tabla. Synth squiggles, muskrat sounds, circuit-board didgeridoo. Cornmeal drone. And the lyrics: "milquetoasted love." I could never sign on fully for the heavy-lidded beach music vibe of Little Feat, and Lowell George's Zappa connection always seemed like as much of an indictment as a point of pride. Bonnie Raitt's rec means more to me. This is one of those songs that point to all kinds of frightful possibilities.

"Kiss It Off" - Little Feat

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I Give Up, Why Can't They?

I had one of those mystical communions with this song, years ago. In a piny subdivision, watching a video documentary about the band. Maybe having smoked some weed. Probably. The tuneful summing up. The strange uplifting hopelessness.
DJ Bonebreak was one of the great drummers. Muscular and crisp and driving, without ever being showy or too spastic.
Shocking how much John Doe and Exene sound like Grace Slick and Marty Balin. Billy Zoom was like a robot god inhabiting a punk greaser.
Shocking, too, how much this sounds like a lost track from the cast recording of Hair.
The title always seemed like the best, most sound punk rock advice you could ever get. The So-Cal name-checking is so "positive scene."
X was exploring the punk/hippie symbiosis/continuum long before it was sanctioned. They were like some deformed Platonic ideal of a band.
Did you know Exene was married to Viggo Mortensen?

My brother stopped in last night. Down from Quebec. He got out the external hard drive and did a major excavation/plundering from my music files. I did the same. Found this, and many other nostalgic nuggets.

"I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts" - X

Friday, October 02, 2009

Dap This

     Last night my dear wife and I went to see Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings.  I happened to stumble upon this cd a while back, and we both liked it a lot.  Then she was on Austin City Limits, and pretty much tore it up live.  So it was a must-see situation.  (Plus it was free!  And it was on our anniversary!)  Charles Walker and the Dynamites opened (I guess it was an and the kind of evening).  Mr. Walker is a veteran soul artist who's been recording since the '60s, and he's having a late-career resurgence backed by a bunch of young Nashville musicians.  He's pretty amazing.  Sharon Jones was great too--she's probably only, what, five feet two, but she has this incredible energy, and her band is tight and funky as hell.  At one point in her show she has to take her shoes off so she can really, truly get down--I mean, she just goes off in this paroxysm of stomping, shaking soul dancing.  It's a sight to behold.  The (mostly white) crowd was way into it.  (One could probably write a dissertation about old-school funk & soul bands and the makeup of their audiences, but I won't go into that here).  I'll just say it was a great night of music here in Music City.  Sharon Jones is a force of nature, my friends.  You should see her live if you ever get the chance.